On a prominent street in Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood, four new residential townhomes sit behind a veiled façade of carefully crafted brick. Adjacent to the site is a twelve-story contemporary residential tower of white concrete to the east, and to the west is the famed Bookbinders, a five-story Greek Revival structure, a significant historic landmark in the city. This project mediates this contextual range first through the form, height, and materiality of the volumes, and then more significantly through the delicate articulation of the brick veil, providing shelter from the southern sun by day and offering privacy to the residents in the evening.
“This is beautifully detailed,the rhythm and the animation are nice — it’s a very sophisticated use of the material.”
- Anne Decker / Juror 2016 RADA Award
The concept for the wall began with an affinity for the prevalent use of brick in Philadelphia. While this material provides a human-scaled, tactile quality, it historically led to smaller scaled openings in rowhomes. The goal became to re-imagine these openings at a more generous scale, by using the brick as a shading device rather than a solid.
“an incredible use of brick.”
- Lisa Iwamoto / Juror 2016 RADA Award
The brick screen walls are forty-five feet tall, single wythe, and reinforced with rebar within each brick. Steel framing behind the brick creates lateral bracing for the building. For a technical breakdown of how we achieved this, head over to our case studies in craft section.
The interior of the homes feature walnut hardwood and travertine limestone floors, walnut ceilings, custom millwork, and finely detailed stairs and railings. The 4 and 5-bedroom units have five full and two half baths, with two car garages, spacious foyers, and an in-law suite on the ground level. On the second floor, a classic piano nobile bathes in dappled southern light through two stories of glazing. The third floor includes a library and additional bedrooms, with a master suite filling the fourth floor. The roof lounge includes two terraces and a second kitchen for outdoor entertaining.